Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Thesis (UNI Access Only)


Catfish: the TV show (Television program); Deception--In popular culture; Symbolic interactionism; Online dating--In popular culture;


The success of Catfish: The TV Show indicates the significance of deception as a focus of attention and communication. It also garners the attention of the researcher to discover the rationales and outcomes of deception in online romantic relationships. Deception is a willful act, and occurs in the process of communication. I selected symbolic interactionism, a theoretical framework that illuminates willful human acts and processes of communication to provide the theoretical guidance for this research. Previous research in impression and relationship management also inform this research, providing theoretical concepts that help refine the overall research question and provide conceptual tools for data analysis. Three seasons (35 episodes) of Catfish: The TV Show were analyzed using Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss's Grounded Theory (1967) approach to discover patterns of rationales and outcomes of deception in online romantic relationships. This research aims to shed light on the role of deception in building online relationships. The most common themes that occurred while viewing Catfish: The TV Show include low self‐esteem and depression, weight‐related issues, sexual and gender issues, multiple relationships or decoys, emotional issues, entertainment and escape, malicious intent and financial gain and possible fame. The implications of the research include the variety of reasons for deceit as well as the intentions to be malicious or unintentionally hurt someone you care about. The positive and negative consequences of deception are also examined.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Communication Studies

First Advisor

Sarina Chen, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 105 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download